ALEXANDER VON HTJMBOLDT.
observations in America he has opened an entirely new
sphere for this science, and has constantly worked
himself, and urged otters to labour in its interests.
This made him more and more intimate with the geo- •
graphy of America, and with the history of nautical
instruments, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
The fifteenth century may be said to have doubled the
works of creation by the revelation of a new world,
.and has introduced many new objects into the old
world, which have gradually tended to change many
relations and views of Europe. This era has a
peculiar interest for Humbolclt, because the human
race made an intellectual and material progress by
the discovery of America ; new fields for commerce
and insight into a new world were opened. None
other but Humboldt was so fitted to continue the
liistory of those great and bold exploring expeditions.
Had he not also gone to sea from Spain as the second
discoverer of America, and had he not stood on the
same spot where Columbus had landed and taken
possession of the new continent ? And he who, forty
years before, had intended to write a history of
America, and had even commenced it, though he sub-
sequently abandoned the plan—who had therefore
acquired the special knowledge of the territorial and
national condition, and had examined with great par-
tiality and eagerness the original accounts of America
in the European libraries—lie ^was especially qualified
to give a sketch of the cosmographic views of the
fifteenth century, and the astronomic systems of that
period. He established the most important results iii
these critical investigations, and proved them by
numerous new facts referring to the history of the
world, the most ancient histories of man ; and adduced
the intimate connexion—in spite of the barbarism of
the middle ages—between the views and opinions
.at the close of the fifteenth century, and those of the
times of Aristotle, Eratosthenes, and Strabo; and im-
parted his proofs with surprising lucidity, basing them.
.on the gradual and universal progress of the human